7 ways to beat gym nerves

Amy Wood - Nutritionist | 22 Sep, 2022

One of the first steps on many people's fitness journey is joining a gym. Exercising in a new environment with equipment you may not have used before and a few more people around than when you usually work out, might leave you feeling a little nervous on your first few visits. Here are 7 top tips to help overcome this so-called 'gymtimidation'!

Gym buddy

1Go with a friend

Trying something new can feel a lot less daunting when you experience it with a family member or friend. A familiar face might help you to feel more comfortable in the gym and can help you see the fun in your new activities. Knowing your gym buddy is experiencing the same new workouts as you means you can compare aching muscles and encourage each another! Plus, you can help each other to stay accountable with your new routine, showing up on time together to make sure neither of you are left alone!

Group class

2Try a group class first

Instead of diving straight in and trying to create your own workout, why not dip a toe in the water and try an exercise class first? Most gyms offer group sessions such as spin classes, HIIT classes and bootcamps. These are a good way to get professional support from a qualified instructor, and work on your technique and confidence surrounded by like-minded people. Classes can also be a fab way to meet people at the gym in a less intense environment.


3Focus on small milestones

Gyms can feel even more intimidating if you set yourself a huge goal that may take months or even years to achieve.

To avoid this, break down your long-term goals into short- and medium-term goals, and make sure to celebrate every achievement – no matter how big or small. Try to turn your focus away from the scales and set yourself goals based around how much weight you can lift, how many sets/reps of an exercise you can do, or how fast/long you can continue on the treadmill for. These performance-based goals are a fab way to turn your focus to your strength and mobility skills, and away from any negative thoughts you have about your body image. Your overall fitness is really what carries the benefits to your health, helping you to live better for longer. Plus, as you become stronger and fitter, you're sure to see your appearance change too as an added bonus!

New activewear

4Treat yourself to some new activewear

One of the best ways to boost your confidence is by feeling good in what you're wearing. Picking out some colourful workout gear is not only a great way to motivate yourself to go out to the gym, but can also help you feel more comfortable and less self-conscious.

There aren't any rules for how you have to look in the gym. If you want to get a real sweat on and go makeup-free, that's great. If you feel more confident and ready to smash your workout with some makeup on, that's okay too. Just do/wear whatever makes you feel good and inspires you to work hard!

Personal trainer

5Start with a personal trainer

Now of course this might not be an option for everybody due to cost, however if you are in a position to hire a personal trainer, it can be a worthwhile investment to get you started. PTs will discuss your specific goals with you and create a workout plan based on this – modifying exercises to accommodate any injuries or conditions you have. A good PT will keep adjusting your workout to ensure you are continually progressing.

Having someone you see regularly is a great motivator on your fitness journey. Even if you choose not to continue with sessions in the long term, you can still take the learnings and workout plans with you and use them in your own solo sessions.

Plan ahead

6Write yourself a plan in advance

A lot of the nerves can be taken away from your gym experience if you go in with a bit of a plan. Take a look at YouTube or other social media platforms for some inspiration – there are plenty of workout plans already free and available with a quick Google search. Make sure to find one that matches your current abilities – there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a beginner and taking things slow.

You don't need to stress about using all the machines on your first few visits. In fact, you never have to use them at all if they're not for you. Find yourself a quiet corner with a mat, one or two weights or resistance bands, put your headphones in and get stuck in. Focus on working your way through your plan, moving at your own pace and modifying exercises as you get a feel for them.

Focus on you

7Never compare – focus on you

Of all these tips, this is definitely the most important! It can be easy to look around the gym and compare yourself negatively to others. Try to remember that every single person in that gym started their fitness journey somewhere, probably feeling just as you do. Taking a big step like joining a gym should be for you and nobody else.

Like you, everyone else in the gym is there to focus on their own goals, and most likely won't be paying any attention to anyone else. The equipment and facilities at the gym may initially look intimidating, but you'll be surprised how quickly you will start to get to grips with how they work. Even taking that first step out of the changing rooms and into the gym is a massive achievement, as it marks you taking control of your health and making a lifestyle change that will benefit you for life in all sorts of ways. You've got this!

Nutritionist Amy Wood (ANutr), MSci BSc Nutrition has a keen interest in the relationship between diet and health. Having been published in the European Journal of Nutrition, Amy is passionate about making evidence-based nutrition accessible to everyone and helping others to adopt a food-focused approach to taking control of their health.

This site uses cookies to personalise content and ads, provide social media features and analyse our traffic. Find out more about how we use cookies.

Choose which cookies you allow us to use. You can read more about our Cookie Policy in our Privacy Policy.